Salford pair up-cycle their business

A pair of social entrepreneurs from Salford are set to up-cycle their furniture business with a £1,000 grant thanks to ForViva group member City West Housing Trust.

Liam Barlow and Jade Wheatland have received the grant for their furniture up-cycling business, J&L Up-cyclers, which refurbishes old and abandoned furniture for re-sale.

The pair received the grant after taking part in the landlord’s Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme, which is run as a partnership with the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO).

The programme helps people to bring their business dreams to life through one-to-one training sessions, before pitching their fledgling businesses Dragon’s Den-style to local investors.

For life-long Salford resident Liam Barlow, 26, setting up his new business is an opportunity to get his career back on track and help support his two children. Liam said: “I've always wanted a hands-on job – after school I trained as an apprentice plumber – but the job opportunities were slim.

“I didn't want a life on the dole, I wanted to get stuck in. So I got in touch with City West after seeing an advert online about training courses, and I haven’t looked back.

“While working with the City West team, I was able to teach people how to up-cycle furniture and got the chance to find out what it’s like to run a shop with a pop-up stall in Little Hulton.

“Finding out about how to set up and run a business on the Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme was the biggest learning curve, and it’s armed me with the information I need to get this venture off the ground in time for Christmas. There’s a lot to get done, but when we open I’ll be over the moon.”

Liam and Jade had previously got to grips with up-cycling through the transformers project, a course that offers young people the chance to learn how to create an up-cycling business by developing the hands-on and the entrepreneurial skills needed to make their venture a success.

The social entrepreneurs undertook the course in April 2015, before starting their own business.

Mother of three Jade Wheatland, 25, said: “Since having my first child, I've focused on being a mother, so any ideas of a career took a back seat. But as my children grew up and started school, I began wondering what I could do.

“The City West team showed me how to do so many things – from getting the skills to refurbish furniture to learning how to run a business. Now we've secured the grant and started to set up our shop, we are ready to launch in time for Christmas.

“When I look back, I can hardly believe how far I've come since the start of the year!”

Jade and Liam have already set to work on their new shop and workspace at a City West-owned retail unit at the Little Hulton Shopping Centre, with the landlord providing the space for free.

The two up-cyclers are also supporting The Mustard Tree through an agreement to buy and repair damaged furniture sourced by the local charity for the pair to then sell out or offer to struggling families for free.

Since 2012, City West’s Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat course has helped more than 60 people to create their own business, providing them with the training to achieve their career dreams.

The scheme teaches budding business men and women how to develop finance plans and up-skills them on how to promote their business through social media and marketing.

In August 2015, the landlord partnered with voluntary support organisation GMCVO to offer a grant of up to £1,000 for people wishing to set up a social enterprise.

If you have got a great idea you want to make a reality, or want to find out more about the Don’t Keep It Under Your Hat programme, please contact City West’s enterprise team on 0300 123 522, or email enterprise@citywest.org.uk.